Archive for September, 2012

Reader’s Forum – Week of September 24, 2012

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

In response to Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – The Software Upgrade Mystery, Chris wrote:

I decided with retirement looming for my husband that we would take a look at Apple products when a store came to our town. We were immediately attracted with the accessibility features being there in the system working out of the box. We now have an IMac, each bought in 2011, an IPad bought in 2011, and a second IPad arrived last week. It was a bit unnerving to be woken with an IMessage being read as it was programmed into IMessage to our daughter’s IPhone saying ‘good morning’. My husband is much more prepared to forsake typing–which he finds hard–for a Voice than I would be, though.
In response to Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – The Software Upgrade Mystery, David wrote:

I agree with this article. Prices of software are sky-high. For instance, I used a Braille translation software and now that I had to upgrade my computer, it crashed, I had no choice, I need a newer version that runs on 64-bit platforms. Cost $495.00. I just had very basic Braille translation needs. I am not sure I can afford this as I have had problems with Rehab closing my case though I fought it to the top levels of the agency. I also need a newer version of scanner software–just to read mail, I’d pay $150.

If all you want is basic levels of software, why can’t they have several versions of the upgrades and you can choose accordingly. Windows has a Home and Pro version. For the price of the speech software I use, its functionality is upsetting.

I need drivers for a Dvorak keyboard, none are forthcoming. I cannot understand why during emails, sentences disappear suddenly and the system says blank and words jump to the ends of sentences and spacing is crazy. My download directory says nothing has been selected or unselected, I have to guess. Other directories work fine. Customer service is an adventure and I get totally lost. I wish there were good answers.

I also bought a Braille display and six weeks later the prices on them came drastically down. Yipes!
In response to comments from Deanna in last week’s Reader’s Forum, Bob wrote:

I am writing in response to what Deanna, the agency employee described about PCA services. The agency I referred to in my column does not have its own care givers. In fact, if you hire your own care giver, and if he or she breaks something in your home, or if the worker’s child knocks over a lamp, you, the client, are liable for the damages; not the worker, not the child, not the agency. The agency I talked about offers guidance and support, but it neither employs nor has a list of its own workers. You, the client, have to be resourceful enough to be your own administrator.

Bob Branco
In response to Feature Writer Karen Crowder – ITM: Coming to a Town or City Near You, David wrote:

That alternative transportation system sounds amazing. I wish we had something like that here to supplement our para-transit during the times it is not working. I know that a nearby city, Baton Rouge, has something called The Interfaith Caregivers–it’s a transportation system run by volunteers. Amazing.

USABA Contributor Lacey Markle – Results from the 2012 London Paralympic Games

The 2012 London Paralympic Games marked the fourteenth edition of the Games, and was the largest Paralympic Games in history with an estimated 4,200 participating athletes from 165 counties. Team USA finished with 98 medals (31 Gold, 29 Silver and 38 Bronze). Congratulations to all of our 227 athletes for a great Paralympic Games! Here are the results for Team USA athletes who are blind and visually impaired. To look up other results please visit:


JP Creignou and Jen French (Two-Person Keelboat – SKUD 18) raced in ten events and never finished below fifth place. This hard work and determination led them to the Silver medal!


Andrew Johnson and Eleni Englert are a part of The Mixed Coxed Four – LTAMix4+ team that won in repechage, which placed them into the Final A group. At the end of the final race Team USA ended up coming in 6th overall.


USA Women’s Goalball had their share of up’s and down’s in London. The ladies won against Sweden 5-1, lost against Japan 2-1, beat Australia 3-0 and lost against Canada 1-0. After four matches Team USA took on China where they lost 5-0. Although they played hard and tried their absolutely best the USA Women’s Goalball team ended up taking 8th place overall.


Tucker Dupree (S12) took fifth in the 400m Freestyle and fourth in 100m Butterfly. Tucker ended up taking away three medals overall: a Bronze medal in the 100m Freestyle, Silver medal in the 100m Backstroke and Bronze medal in the 50m Freestyle.

Brad Snyder (S11) set a Paralympic Record with a time of 57.18 in the preliminaries for the 100m Freestyle and ended up winning the Gold medal in this event. He also took home a Silver Medal in the 50m Freestyle. In his other events Brad placed eighth in the 100m Backstroke, sixth in the 100m Breaststroke, fourth in the 100m Butterfly and sixth in the 200m Individual Medley. On September 7th, exactly one year to the day when an improvised explosive device went off in Afghanistan and took his vision; Brad swam the 400m Freestyle and won the Gold medal! Click here to watch an interview with Brad on CNN.

Kelley Becherer (S13) won the Gold medal in the 50m Freestyle. In the 100m Freestyle Kelley also won the Gold medal, making that her second gold of the games. In the 200m Individual Medley she took the Bronze medal and won another Bronze medal in the 100m Breaststroke. Kelley won a medal in every event she competed in, what an accomplishment!

Rebecca Anne Meyers (S13) took fourth in the 50m Freestyle. She continued to win the Bronze medal in the 100m Freestyle and in the 200m Individual Medley Rebecca took the Silver medal. Finally, in the 100m Breaststroke Rebecca finished fifth in her heat.

Colleen Young (S13) came in sixth place in her heat for the 50m Freestyle, fifth in her heat for the 100m Freestyle. She also took fifth in the 100m Breaststroke and seventh in the 200m Individuals Medley.

Letticia Martinez (S11) took sixth in her heat in the 100m Backstroke, eighth in the 100m Breaststroke and third in her heat in the 200m Individual Medley.


Ron Hawthorne took seventh in the 60kg weight class
Cindy Simon came in fifth in the 57kg weight class
Cristella Garcia (70kg) and Katie Davis (70+ kg) made it to quarterfinals
Dartanyon Crockett won the Bronze medal in the Men’s 90kg
Myles Porter took the Silver medal in the Men’s 100kg

Road/Track Cycling

In Track Cycling, Clark Rachfal and his pilot Dave Swanson took sixth in the Individual B Pursuit and seventh in the Individual B 1km Time Trial.
Clark and Dave also competed in Road Cycling where the duo finished eighth in the Individual B Time Trial and tenth in the Individual B Road Race.


Markeith Price (T13) took eight in the 400m, sixth in the Long Jump (F13) and fifth in his heat for the 200m.

In the 100m (T12) Josiah Jamison and his guide Jermone Avery placed fourth in their heat. They also finished second in their heat for the 200m, which qualified them for semifinals. During semifinals Josiah and Jermone were disqualified and did not advance to the finals.

Lex Gillette won the silver medal in the Long Jump (F11). He also finished fourth in the Triple Jump with a distance of 12.39m, this was his season best. Lex and his guide Wesley Williams took third in their heat for the 200m (T11). Finally, they ran in the 100m and placed third in their heat.

Tanner Gers took 11th place in the Long Jump (F11).

David Brown and his guide Rolland Slade took second in their heat for the 200m (T11). In the 100m David and Rolland finished second in their heat with a time of 11.37, a personal best, and placed third in their heat in the semifinals.

Hall of Fame

The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) would also like to extend a huge congratulation to Trischa Zorn! The most decorated Paralympian ever and USABA Board Member was inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame in London. She competed as a member of the USA swim team from 1980-2000. In seven Games, she won a staggering 55 medals, including 41 Gold, nine Silver and five Bronze. Trischa held many world records during her career, two of which still stand today, eight years after she last competed! Check out this video from her induction:

Relive your favorite moments from the 2012 London Paralympic Games by checking out for video highlights!

Contributor Valerie Moreno – SNOW: A Great Way To Go

When my husband passed in 2010, there were dozens of stresses to deal with outside the grief. Paperwork, forms, moving and reorganization were just a few.

My adult daughter was by my side through the blur of shock and change that first year and it was she who came up with the code word–SNOW–that saved our energy as well as sanity.

SNOW stands for “Stop Negativity On Weekends”. This meant no worrying, sorting, stressing or anxiety on Saturdays and Sundays other than daily routine or unforeseen emergency.

As much as it may seem like common sense, putting this “rule” in motion eased the physical and mental strain on both of us. It was said aloud every Friday after stacks of mail and several phone messages loomed before us. We literally swept them aside for two days so we could regroup and settle down.

Was it easy? No, but after repeating “SNOW” to ourselves and each other, it started to work. SNOW was a stop sign that kept anxiety and uncertainty away for a few precious hours.

We still use SNOW now, after things have settled down and it gives our coping ability a jumpstart on Mondays.

Is it foolproof? No, but it sure makes a difference. Give it a try. Let it snow!

Do you have any special sayings or rituals that help relieve stress? Share them with us in the Reader’s Forum.

Contributor Rodney Robinson – 35 Years of Independence as a Deaf Blind Man

We will start at the very beginning, with a set of twins born on January 15, 1965–both very underweight. I arrived right after my sister, Robin, and was only three pounds, six ounces. Because of our small size, we had many problems, and I was later told that the doctor said he did not expect us to live six weeks, and later, six months. Yet I live.

At age three, I hit my head on the wall and floor and cried and cried, so my mother took me to see two different doctors. One told her that I belonged in a mental hospital and that I could only aspire to be a beggar. The other doctor said to my mother that she should take me home and love me like any child should be loved. So my mother took me home and loved me.

Later, my mother found out that I was born with glaucoma in both eyes. So, at age seven, I was prepared for an operation and someone placed a patch over my left eye. The doctor was supposed to operate on the eye with the patch, but ended up working on the wrong eye instead, and I lost sight in my left eye shortly after.

At age eleven, I could only read one side of the page in a book, with the other extremely cloudy. Doctors told me I only had a ten percent chance of seeing again. Three days after my twelfth birthday, I went completely blind.

At age thirteen I was fitted for a hearing aid in my left ear and went deaf in my right ear. At age fifteen I was fitted for a back brace to straighten my spine. I also had heart problems and some speech difficulty. All of this was due to birth defects.

I began working in 1983, when I was eighteen, at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Back then, I had some problems and difficulty learning how to cope with them. As a teenager, I had a temper and was looking at things the wrong way. At one point, I broke something, and got into some pretty serious trouble for it. My mother refused to pay the bill, and no one else was going to help, either. I had to face the music, and I worked rolling silverware in order to pay them back $350 for the broken item. It was a turning point for me, when I learned I needed to be responsible for my actions and adjust my view on life.

You see, despite everything we go through, we are not owed anything in this life. We must work for it. We must apply ourselves and work hard to accomplish our goals. There will be rough times along the way, but determination will pay off. For me, a strong faith and great friends help keep me strong. Let people think what they want to think. If they’re uneasy around me, so be it–that’s their problem, not mine. I’ve got too much to live for to worry about them.

I have been self-reliant as a deaf blind man for 28 years, working and living on my own. I continue to work for Red Lobster, rolling silverware, and will do that as long as I can, doing the best that I can in that role, taking nothing for granted.

Life is short. Live it up.

Op Ed with Bob Branco – Not Enough Verbal

While you watch television, how often do you hear those famous words, “Call the number on your screen”? As a blind person, don’t you find it frustrating that you can’t take part in whatever that telephone number offers the general public just because you can’t see it? I realize that the people who work behind the scenes in the television profession think visually, because of what television is all about. But executives in this profession need to further identify the audio component on television, allowing blind people to get as much information as they can from its programs. With more of a verbal emphasis, the blind will know the phone number on the screen as well as much more important information that shows up in print.

Several years ago, I would have been denied access to emergency weather conditions had my sighted friend not been watching the same program that I was, because he happened to see the warning flash on his screen. Sighted viewers of that program were visually informed of a tornado watch in my county. Had my friend not called to warn me, I would never have found out about it.

I know that the Weather Channel has made tremendous progress informing the blind of dangerous weather. For the past 10 years or so, the weather forecasts, though shown visually, are now verbally described while the music is playing in conjunction with the visual information. With that said, there is more work to be done. With respect to infomercials, I want as much of an opportunity to know what the phone number on the screen is, because I, too, may find the product or service associated with this phone number just as beneficial for me as it would for the sighted. On a more serious note, if a tornado is coming in my direction, I shouldn’t have to rely on a sighted person to call me on the phone. I should be able to hear the warning at all times. I know that weather radios and the emergency broadcast system do their share of notifying the public verbally, but I am also sure that the experience I just described about the tornado watch has happened to many of you, where the information was only shown visually during a program.

I welcome your thoughts in the Reader’s Forum.

August 2012 audio version

Welcome to the Matilda Ziegler Magazine audio player. To begin listening to the magazine, simply click the “Read more” link below. Once you select the month, an embedded media player will start playing the magazine immediately. While using this player, you can press the control key plus the space bar to pause the current article. To proceed to the next article hold down the control key and the shift key and then press the N key. To go back to the previous article hold down the control key and the shift key and press the P key.

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Feature Writer Karen Crowder – The Quest for the Perfect Roll

In 1980, during the Christmas season, my mom and I made delicious three-hour rolls from the Braille cookbook “A Leaf from our Table.” But until 1991, my attempts at making those rolls on my own were met with constant failure.

In 1991, early in my marriage, I was motivated to try making the rolls again. My first try was woefully unsuccessful, yielding flat rolls that could only be used to feed the birds in our yard. Around New Year’s, I tried the different recipe for “brown and serve” rolls which, much to my delight, came out great and were a hit with everyone. I thought I was finally getting the hang of it.

On a rainy afternoon in June 1992, I wished to try a new recipe from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book. It was for Parker House rolls, a perfect accompaniment for soup or chowder on that cool Monday evening. As I listened, the steps seemed easy and I spent the afternoon discovering this new and delightful recipe. We enjoyed buttery hot rolls for supper and at breakfast the next morning. The recipe became a favorite and was requested year round, especially during the holidays. I began to call them fool-proof, as every batch was a great success. My battle against the roll had finally come to an end.

Here is the recipe for those Parker House rolls. I have made some changes through the years–adding more shortening and sugar while decreasing salt content.


2 cups milk
One half cup solid Crisco
One third to one half cup sugar
One half cup very warm water
Two packages active dry yeast
Two large eggs one teaspoon salt
Seven to eight cups all purpose flour


Scald milk in glass two-cup measuring cup on high for two minutes in microwave. Pour milk in to large mixing bowl, adding Crisco and sugar, stirring until shortening is partially melted.

In another bowl, pour warm water, adding packages of yeast. Let dissolve (this should take about five minutes).

Put yeast mixture, eggs, salt, and one cup of flour into mixing bowl. Stir for a minute then add two cups of flour, then stir for one minute. Then add two cups of flour. Stir, and add two cups of flour. This makes a manageable dough.

Add another cup flour, stir for a minute, and pour out onto a pastry board or tray. If necessary, add extra flour.

Knead the dough for one minute. Let dough rest for ten minutes, then knead for another five to six minutes. Dough will be smooth and elastic, springing back when handled.

Grease the inside of the large bowl with butter and put dough in, covering it completely with plastic wrap. Put bowl on lowest rack in oven. One trick is you can try turning the oven on at two hundred for five minutes before putting bowl in the oven. Turn oven off before putting bowl in oven.

After one hour and fifteen minutes, check if the dough pushes on the plastic wrap. Take it to the counter and punch it down.

Melt three-fourths stick butter in small bowl in microwave.

Put half the dough on a floured clean board or tray.

Pat or roll it out. Cut it with a biscuit cutter shaping rolls into rounds, or rolling each piece in to a cylindrical shape dabbing it with butter. Place rolls on ungreased jelly roll pan.

When dough is gone you will have 64 to 70 rolls. Pour extra butter on the rolls.

Cover baking pan with foil and put it in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 and bake rolls for 18 minutes. Serve them hot with chowder or soup.

If you need to store extra rolls, you can either refrigerate or freeze them in ziplock bags.


Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Lost at Sea for a Quarter of a Year

After celebrating being sworn in as a police officer, Toakai Teitoi got into a boat with his brother-in-law Ielu Falaile, and was not heard from again until more than 3 months later. The ordeal for Teitoi and his brother-in-law commenced back in late May, when they decided to travel by boat from Tarawa to their home island of Maiana. The journey turned into a spontaneous fishing trip too, but that is where everything went horribly wrong. The pair slept at sea over night, waking up to discover that the 15-foot boat had drifted off into the middle of nowhere.

When traveling directly, the trip from one island to the other just takes 2-hours, but the detour proved to be an unmitigated disaster once the boat ran out of fuel. Eating was not the problem, staying hydrated however, was an entirely different story. Falaile, who was 52, lasted 5 weeks before succumbing to a lack of fluids, but Teitoi, 41, would hold on for 8 more. He kept the body next to him for one more night, and buried him at sea on the 5th of July. That same day a major storm filled the sky, dropping enough rain for Teitoi to catch ten gallons of water.

Teitoi reached a point where he really was uncertain of his destination, but he seemed comfortable with any outcome. “There were two choices in my mind at the time,” he said. “Either someone would find me or I would follow my brother-in-law. It was out of my control.” Ironically, no human being would really be the one to find him. Instead, his guardian angel came knocking on the 106th day, September 11th, when he awoke to a 6-foot shark tapping on the boat. The animal, infamously known as a man eater, only took off once he had alerted Teitoi, who does not feel like that encounter was any coincidence. “He was guiding me to a fishing boat,” said Teitoi. “I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with
binoculars looking at me.”

Once he was rescued, Teitoi did not get back to Tarawa immediately. Since he was still in good health, the crew continued fishing for a few more days before returning to shore. As he reflected on his incredible journey, Teitoi reminisced about the night it all began. He said he watched a movie right after his ceremony, and that was when he decided to travel back by boat. Unfathomably, the movie featured 4 individuals lost at sea for 6 weeks, with only two returning alive.

When speaking of his future, Teitoi is not hesitant about traveling at all–he does vow to change the arrangements, though. “I’ll never go by boat again,” he said. “I’m taking a plane.”


Feature Writer John Christie – Beep, Beep! Baseball Coming Through

In the early to mid 60s, at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, we used to play baseball with a fairly big ball and bat. The bases were marked off by material that driveways were made of and each base had an opposing team member standing there. When a ball was hit, the people at each base would yell first, second, or third base.

In 1964, attempts to modify the game would be made with the invention of the beep ball by Charley Fairbanks, an engineer with Mountain Bell Telephone. Fairbanks produced a normal sized soft ball with a beeping module inside. Some basic playing rules were devised by the Telephone Pioneers of America. This organization also came up with knee-hi cone shaped rubber bases which made a high pitched whistle sound.

At first, this new game had its drawbacks. For starters, the equipment didn’t function consistently and blind players had problems distinguishing between the sound of the beeping ball and the whistling base. Rules for playing the game were also pretty restrictive. All players had to wear face masks and chest pads and running was not permitted during the game. It didn’t matter if you were a fielder or a batter. Another negative aspect to the game was that the ball was hard to hit. This was because pitching styles were not perfected at the time. Overall, the game moved too slowly and it was not challenging enough.

Eleven years later, the Minnesota Telephone Pioneers produced a more effective beep ball which was 16 inches big. This newly designed ball had an improved sound module and the design of the ball would ensure that it could withstand a solid hit. This ball was presented to John Ross, Director of the Braille Sports Foundation. With the new ball, Ross played the game with his other blind friends and attempted to make the rules of the game similar to Major League Baseball. Word of the game soon spread across the Mississippi River to another group of blind athletes. Two teams were formed and competitive Beep Baseball was born.

The rules of beep baseball are different from regular baseball. First and foremost, you can score a run in two different directions, according to our own Bob Branco, who has played the game for the New Bedford, Massachusetts beep baseball team. Bob stated that you have two bags or bases: one on first base and one on third base. If you make it to a particular base before you are thrown out, you score a run. You also know where to run because you can hear the beeping of the ball once a pin is pulled out of the ball and there are sound effect on both first and third base. In addition, the pitcher and catcher are on the same team and are sighted. Bob also said that sighted people can play the game as well as long as they are blindfolded and are not the pitcher or the catcher. Bob also said that there aren’t as many rules as regular baseball because “There are only seven or eight players on the field.”

I asked Bob if he likes the game the way it is and he admitted that he did. However, he feels that with today’s technology, the game could easily be more like a typical 9 inning game with some basic changes.

While beep baseball is, indeed, a great sport for the visually impaired, it would be nice to see some developments that bring it closer to regular baseball. We played that back in the 60s when we were kids, and had a blast. Today’s children could enjoy it the same way and it would also serve as a perfect integration sport for sighted children, since the rules would be so similar.

Do any of you play beep baseball? Let us hear some stories in the Reader’s Forum.


Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Feel the Love with Felines

In part one of this series, I offered the premise that having service animals and pets results in many health benefits. I elaborated by explaining that positive aspects of dog ownership in particular can include their ability to detect cancer, blood sugar drops in diabetics, and seizure onset in persons with epilepsy.

Just as numerous health and companionship benefits are associated with dogs, this is also the case with cats. By Googling “Benefits of Cat Ownership,” for example, you will learn that there are nursing homes in Florida and Georgia where cats provide therapeutic companionship to residents who are bedridden or terminally ill. It seems that the warmth of those furry little bodies provides levels of comfort that can be measured by vital signs which one might expect after a person has been using meditation to relax. Ziegler Contributor Valerie Moreno has also given us beautiful examples in articles she has written about the positives she derives from owning her cat, which also happens to be blind.

Additional sources of similar information come from, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and On those websites, you will find articles about cats reducing loneliness among senior adults and single women who live alone. Cats have also been credited with enhancing self-esteem in children and reducing at least some of the sensitivity that can exist due to allergens. Though elderly persons who are active can rival anyone who has ever romped with an active kitten or cat, those for whom too much physical exertion might be problematic can especially benefit from cats being lower maintenance than dogs. The sense of being needed again can be a big bonus to persons whose spouses have passed away, and may be living alone for the first time in years.

Since the above referenced websites seem to share the philosophy that humans benefit from pet interactions from both dogs and cats, and the first two articles in this series have focused on dogs, I will conclude next week with survey responses from cat owners, one of whom significantly benefits from the companionship since her husband’s death. The other cat owner whose experiences I will be sharing derives powerful emotional benefits that relate to her mental health diagnosis. Due to the personal and sensitive nature of one’s mental health, I will be giving this last person a pseudonym or just use her initials.

Please feel free to share in Readers Forum the benefits you derive from pet or service animal ownership, be they physical, emotional or some of each.